Giannis’ Triple-Doubles Provide Boredom Amulet


Is there a more exciting player in the world than Giannis Antetokounmpo?

Suddenly, even he has doubts.

After his career-high 55 points in a dazzling performance against the Washington Wizards, Giannis freelanced in his postgame press conference. “I want to get into a position that my, game, which, I think I have gotten to that position, that my game is,” _____. Fill in the blank: stupendous? Ineffably wonderful? No: “boring,” Giannis concluded (comments at 9:30-10:15).


Oh, Giannis, don’t break NBA fans’ hearts so! True, even Dave Koehn noted on one broadcast that his job with Virginia Cavaliers basketball lost its luster sometimes after too many non-conference laughers. Will Bally Sports need new ownership again as its ratings slip as disinterested Bucks fans turn to Candy Crush?

Heck no!

Lest Milwaukeeans lose perspective now that the Greek Freak plays excellently in nearly every game, it may help to consider Giannis’s 33 career triple-doubles. Bucks Lead narrowed that exhaustive list down to the top five. It took the Freak nearly seven years of triple-tens to reach his current heights, and such a lengthy stretch of success never jades the eyes of the basketball-proud Cream City.

Honorable Mention And Notes

When the still-middling Bucks handed the 24-0 Warriors their first loss on a rocking December 2015 night in a zany Bradley Center, it initially appeared that Giannis recorded his first triple-double, as ESPN wrote: “Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.” When one examines the box score, however, statisticians only credited him with eight boards.

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As former Bucks announcer Ted Davis noted, the discrepancy was from a postgame correction. Historians wanted to record the historic night accurately. Thankfully, as Bucks fans found out again last week, all wins count the same. Giannis quickly brushed away the slight.

Of the Freak’s 33 trip-dubs, 31 were in the regular season and two in the playoffs, with the Bucks’ holding a 29-4 record in those contests. All 33 were from the traditional ten+ points, assists and rebounds.

Bucks Lead primarily considered the broader impact of the game. Stats should tell the story, not be the story. Therefore, the positive contribution of a win for emotion and momentum takes priority in tale-weaving. That leaves out those measly four losses and the five trip-dubs from the non-playoff 2015-16 season. Disagree with the listing? @BucksLead, please!

5. Bucks-Sixers: October 24th, 2018, Fiserv Forum

Giannis 32 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists

After a devastating seven-game loss to Boston 2018’s first round, boredom was the last emotion on Bucks fans’ minds. Instead, supporters felt frustrated and perhaps even a smidge of despair. Would our developing Greek hero even win a playoff series?

Giannis dismissed those concerns like he was swatting away a terrified gnat.

In the fall of 2018, the Bucks won their first three games before hosting a Sixers franchise that was also rising. But Giannis had waited long enough. In a way that’s almost expected now, he bullied past defenders to the hoop but did so with a controlled drive.

Brute force is not enough in basketball. Force, yes, but only with technique leads to 32-point games.

While falling out of bounds, Giannis bounced a pass backward to Tony Snell, who hit a three to give the Freak his needed tenth assist.

The Bucks faced further disappointment in an Eastern Finals loss to Toronto, and the NBA met a fright with a pandemic lockdown. Yet, with the passion of three countries behind him, Giannis soon produced further amazement in an unlikely setting.

4. Bucks-Heat: May 29th, 2021, American Airlines Arena, Miami

Giannis 20 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists

To conclude the regular season, the Bucks knew that, should they defeat Miami, the two franchises would probably meet in the first round.

Uh-oh! Most Bucks fans pleaded with the Greek Gods not to let this outcome occur. Miami had long been Milwaukee’s nemesis and knocked out the top-seeded Deer in the 2020 bubble.

Thankfully, Giannis was long past playing scared. The Bucks smoked Miami 122-108, setting up a shockingly one-sided series for Milwaukee. After Khris Middleton‘s winning three in game one, the Bucks routed Miami twice. One more win and the Deer would have a stunning sweep and excellent momentum entering fearsome Brooklyn.

Closeout games often seem to be the most difficult, and despite minuscule odds, Miami blazed to a twelve-point lead in game four. Thankfully, Giannis again showed restrained intensity to make his needed plays. The more-talented and more-passionate Bucks wore out a Heat franchise that suddenly faced the same uncertainty that Milwaukee had suffered for decades.

Giannis held the Bill Russell trophy in just a few weeks as the NBA Finals MVP. Yawwwwwn. The only act less interesting than that accomplishment?

Achieving it again.

3. Bucks-Celtics: May 1st, 2022: TD Garden, Boston

Giannis 24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists

Milwaukee experienced little opposition from Chicago in the first round of their repeat tour of vengeance. However, Middleton’s injury made their path through Boston more challenging.

Further, contrary to some scribes’ advice, the Bucks had chosen to concede their last regular-season game, giving Boston home-court advantage. Also, the Celtics had the postseason experience and winnable games against Milwaukee that the depleted Heat and newly prosperous Sixers didn’t.

Yeah, so?

Milwaukee blasted Boston from the tip as Giannis played with seemingly no inhibition. Seemingly none because, again, he plays smart, not just hard. When the Celtics tried to wall Giannis off, he slipped through defenders’ arms anyway. When the barrier was too strong, that just meant he had a teammate open.

Regrettably, Giannis couldn’t contribute enough without Middleton, and the Bucks fell in seven games. However, glory was just another step up Mount Olympus’s golden staircase.

2. Bucks-Raptors: January 4th, 2023: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

Giannis 30 points. 21 rebounds, 10 assists

Sure, there’s a strong recency bias in placing Giannis’s most recent trip-dub second. But since the Freak is still improving his game with no talent plateau in sight, it makes sense that his performances within any statistical category also keep rising.

Even the most frightened Bucks fan didn’t think Giannis would need a triple-double Wednesday night. What could go wrong with a 21-point lead with three minutes left?

A three here, a three there, a flagrant foul over there, and…overtime.

Dang it!

For two reasons, the Bucks’ triumph over their conference rival emphasizes Giannis’ statistical accomplishment. First, the Freak needed maturity against a Raptor team with markedly less energy in overtime but still fiercely clinging to its last ounces of focus.

Second, Giannis secured his tenth assist in perhaps the greatest triple-double securing dime in franchise history. He had nowhere to go at the basket but bounced the sphere sideways to Grayson Allen, who swooshed the winning three.

While the Bucks struggle hoof and horn for playoff positioning in a crowded 2023 East, one must glance at the quickly receding past to remember one of the finest, if often overlooked, moments in their best player’s career.

1. Bucks-Rockets: October 24th, 2019: Toyota Center, Houston

Giannis 30 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists

It’s easy to throw out the 2019-2020 season as a mulligan for every team except the champion Lakers.

That would be a shame, though.

Why forget the Bucks’ 18-game winning streak, the second-longest in franchise history? Why dismiss the remarkable courage the NBA displayed in setting up the bubble, giving an ill world numerous reasons to smile?

And most of all, fans should not forget how the Bucks rapidly rallied in the Houston opener. In hindsight, most fans explain that the Bucks weren’t quite ready as a franchise as Toronto recovered from an 0-2 series deficit in the 2019 playoffs.

Isn’t that always a man’s supposed fate, though? Not quite. Almost there. Good try.

Paradoxically, it was by nearly succeeding that night, by doing his best and being an inch short, that Giannis achieved victory. Because alone, no one can reach life’s summit. That fateful night in Texas, the man so quick to unselfishly dish assists received one from his basketball brothers.

Giannis displayed nuanced passion in his artistic swipes to the hoop but, unlike his statistically superior nights, fell into foul trouble. Unthinkably, despite trying to evade an attacking Clint Capela, the Freak fouled out.

After hundreds of victories already for his beloved Milwaukee, all Giannis could do was cheer on the bench. Leadership, though, isn’t primarily about numbers. It’s about setting an example. In six years, Giannis went from a skinny rookie to a head-butting frustration to the NBA of the world’s best sports league.

It seemed a reasonable request: I’ll take a five-minute timeout, guys. Got my back, just this once?

As a dazed Rocket fanbase left for their cars, again taking the Bucks’ skeptics away in defeat, Giannis danced and celebrated as his team reached the only mark that matters. One day at a time, one win at a time, one inspiration at a time.

The Bucks were 1-0.

Triple Double Stats Courtesy Stathead.com’s Basketball Database

About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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